Editor’s note: The Bird of Peace is a statue of swans gifted by Richard Nixon to China during his historic 1972 visit. Pablo Picasso famously developed his first Dove of Peace, gifted to him by Henri Matisse, into a simple drawing that has become one of the world’s most recognizable symbols of peace. In the following trilogy, illustrator Richard Codor, Rabbi David Geffen and Judge Steve Adler share their story of the Israeli-Egyptian Bird of Peace – featuring US President Jimmy Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat – drawn by Codor in 1978 before the Camp David Accords were signed between Israel and Egypt.
How my drawing was created
By Richard Codor
In 1978, I had just started working for Israel Television’s Arabic News Department when I was asked to draw something about the end of the Camp David negotiations between Begin, Sadat and Carter. The prevalent feeling was that the negotiations would collapse, but I went ahead with the rickety “Bird of Peace” taking off.
Just before the broadcast of the afternoon news show, the word came through that the Camp David Accords had been reached. The news department was ecstatic and quickly broadcast the drawing. They decided to show it again on the evening news. They asked me to stand in front of a big projected image and gesture to it with a pointer. They also gave me a fez to wear.
What I didn’t know was that they asked me to go on air because I resembled one of the most famous Arab comic actors, Duraid Laham, who played a character named Ghawar Al Toshi. Suddenly the station was flooded with calls. What was Ghawar doing on Israeli TV!? How did he get there from Syria? I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but a few days later, walking through the Old City, I suddenly had kids and shopkeepers all clapping and yelling “Ghawar Al Toshi!” I did other variations on the Bird of Peace drawing for the Arabic news, but none ever appeared on air again.
The writer is a top cartoonist and illustrator who lives in New York.
Selling outside Jerusalem’s main Post Office
By David Geffen
From the time it was announced in November 1978 that Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat would receive the Nobel Peace Prize the following month, the citizens of Israel felt enormous pride. They had been swept away by Sadat’s surprise visit to Israel in November 1977 and then the greatest of all international awards were to be given to these two warriors for peace. When Sadat came, I stood with my wife, Rita, and our children on the streets of Jerusalem, waiting to see him riding in a black limousine. We waved happily because we felt that after making aliyah that year, we were seeing peace between Arabs and Jews begin to materialize. Hundreds of people lined the streets to wave at Sadat and blow kisses.
As the date for the Nobel Prize presentation drew near, I was thrilled that the young cartoonist, Richard (Dick) Codor, had immersed himself in a fascinating way. He had been a part of a Wilmington, Delaware communal two-week trip that Rita and I led. When we arrived with the 30 Delawareans in February 1971, Codor disappeared, remaining in Israel for the next 10 years.
While in Israel, he worked with Dudu Geva on the notable series Zoo Eretz Zoo” (a play on words both in English and Hebrew). He worked as a cartoonist for the Hebrew University student magazine, Lillith, where he published the famous “Super Golda” comic strip. Its popularity and Golda Meir’s anger over the illustration made it possible to turn it into a poster, which was widely distributed. Codor then chose another political figure, and his new poster work became the classic Popeye (Moshe) Dayan.
He was hired by the Jerusalem Pencil Company, for whom he produced the comic book Arnon Eeparon, which school children received as a gift from the company. Drawn in Jerusalem, his iconic “Four Children” as the “four Marx Brothers” was featured in the Big Book of Jewish Humor. When he created and published his best-selling Richard Codor’s Joyous Haggadah, the Marx Brothers/Four Sons were included.
As the excitement surrounding the Nobel Prize grew, Dick drew his famous “Bird of Peace” with Begin, Sadat and Carter, which was featured on Arabic TV where he worked. As a small-time entrepreneur (I knew a little about finance), I asked Dick if I could have his drawing reproduced on cards, the size of typewriter pages. He agreed, and as I recall there were 50 printed. I also put some on envelopes, but only one survived. I affixed stamps on the cards and had them hand-canceled at the main Jerusalem Post Office on Jaffa Road. Then I stood outside of the Post Office and began selling them at 25 lira apiece. Not too many people purchased them, but at least I had some additional cash, which always helped!
The writer is a retired rabbi who lives in Jerusalem.
My role in the project
By Steve Adler
For many years, I studied Chumash with my good friend Prof. Mervin Gottesman, who was head of cardiology at Hadassah Hospital and the private doctor of prime minister Menachem Begin. He would travel with Begin when he had meetings and ceremonies abroad. When Sadat came to Jerusalem in 1977 and the peace process began, the prime minister made more trips abroad and Gottesman was always with him. That was an exciting time.
When Rabbi David Geffen showed me the envelopes and peace cards, I took some and gave them to Dr. Gottesman. I asked him to get autographs of world leaders and other noted personalities on these unique items. Because of his status and the possibility that he might be needed to help any of the participants, many signed.
On his return, he gave me the signed cards and some envelopes with the “Bird of Peace” on it. On March 26, 1979, the peace treaty was signed by Begin, Sadat, and Carter at the White House. A day before the event, I flew to New York, landing shortly before that monumental Israel-Egypt peace treaty became a reality.
From the airport, I went to the philatelic window at the US Postal Service building on Eighth Avenue. American stamps were then affixed to my items which already had Israeli stamps and postmarks and were canceled with an American postmark. My interest in doing this, many years ago, was a combination of my collector’s spirit and love of history.
The writer is former president of the National Labor Court.